Autonomous Vision Navigation of Spacecraft in Lunar Orbit
Bader, Nolan A.
Spanos, Pol D; Woffinden, Dave C
Master of Science
NASA aims to achieve unprecedented navigational reliability for the first manned lunar mission of the Orion spacecraft in 2023. A technique for accomplishing this is to integrate autonomous feature tracking as an added means of improving position and velocity estimation. In this thesis, a template matching algorithm and optical sensor are tested onboard three simulated lunar trajectories using linear covariance techniques under various conditions. A preliminary characterization of the camera gives insight into its ability to determine azimuth and elevation angles to points on the surface of the Moon. A navigation performance analysis shows that an optical camera sensor can aid in decreasing position and velocity errors, particularly in a loss of communication scenario. Furthermore, it is found that camera quality and computational capability are driving factors affecting the performance of such a system.